March 30, 2009
The argument about same-sex marriage has been going on long enough now that we can sort the anti-SSM rationales into three, you must excuse the term, positions: (1) EEEEEYEEWWW!; (2) defining marriage as anything other than a union of man and woman undermines the foundations of civilization; (3) the Big Guy in the Sky says it’s forbidden, and we have to do like he says or he will withdraw his blessing from America and all kinds of bad things will happen.
Since (1) is self-refuting and (2) usually leads to (3), let’s focus on the religious argument — specifically the Christianist view. As it turns out, Damon Linker in The New Republic has a pretty cool rejoinder to the Big Guy in the Sky contingent:
Among many other things, Christian scripture and tradition affirm the legitimacy of slavery, claim that the Jews are cursed for killing Jesus, and assert that one must give away all of one’s belongings and even learn to hate one’s own family before following Christ. These are just a few of the matters on which contemporary Christians, including orthodox Christians like Rod (Dreher), feel quite comfortable breaking with, or explaining away, scripture and tradition. And it’s a good thing, too, because it shows that they’re willing to think for themselves about important moral issues and to use their minds to separate out what is enduringly true in scripture and tradition from the unexamined prejudices that shape and distort everything touched by human hands, very much including received religious norms, practices, and beliefs. The issue, then, is to determine why so many contemporary Christians have decided that the teaching on homosexuality — but not the teachings on slavery, Jews, and the most stringent requirements of becoming a disciple of Christ — deserves to be preserved.
As I’ve noted before (and implied many times as well), I tend not to be impressed by arguments that involve waving around the nearest handy copy of the local holy book. If the Almighty wants to part the clouds, shine down a beam of light and inform the world in thunderous tones that he doesn’t want to see SSM accorded equal status with opposites-attract wedlock, then he’s got my attention. Until then, Jesus whoopers and Christianists can put away their witch doctor paraphernalia and frame their arguments in a rational fashion.
I realize that I have failed to take into account the Rick Santorum if-we-allow-gay-marriages-then-we’ll-end-up-letting-people-marry-house-pets-and-livestock point of view, but since most of us would need nine-tenths of our brains surgically removed before we could address that argument on its proper intellectual level, I figured I’d save us a lot of trouble.